Ascend

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Today it is easier than ever for your presence to be seen by large groups of people, many you may never meet. With just a few strategic keyboard clicks (either by you or someone else) instant notoriety–positive or negative –can be yours. Like most people, I believe social media can be a tremendous tool, allowing us to connect to others we otherwise wouldn’t.

Perhaps you or someone you know of has been suddenly thrust into the limelight. Like most things, a good thing can become a bad thing if we’re not careful. The distance between these two opposites is often a very thin line or a subtle shift. This leads me to the true focus of this post: self-ascension.

As you may know, I have been on one of the most incredible journeys, as I have asked God to use my life for his purposes, and I see him doing just that.

He has led me to places and people I never would have imagined meeting. He has given me a platform to share about His truths to others across the world. He allows me to be his “hands and feet.” He led me to forming a non-profit and writing a book about this journey that is soon to be published. While that seems like a lot, in my spirit, I sense that God is preparing me for something else, something even more public than now. To be honest, while the thought of being used further by God is exhilarating, the thought of becoming anything close to a “public figure” is terrifying. My introverted, behind-the-scenes-preferring-self would rather remain in obscurity.

If my ability and opportunities to speak and teach about the goodness of God ascends, the only way I want that to happen is if God himself orchestrates that ascent. Of course, right? But not so fast. There is a trend happening today in the area of self-ascension and I am trying very hard not to step into that current. There are many genuine, devoted and sincere Christ followers who are being used to do great work and using social media to share about it. When they do, you see their humility and that they have not lost sight of who it is they are to serve and glorify. To these, I say bravo! Well done! May God receive all due glory.

But friends, it also seems as if there is a viral trend occurring in which others are working very hard to build a platform of notoriety while using God to get there. This should not be, and it grieves me to my core.

The Bible is full of stories of people who went off the rails in this way. A most remarkable example is Satan himself. Perhaps you know that Satan did not start out bad. In fact, in Isaiah 14:12, we get a glimpse of how he was known when he was good. Check this out:

“How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!”

Morning star? Son of the dawn? One who once “laid low the nations?” Wow! These are extremely significant attributes, speaking of how much responsibility and power had been placed into Satan’s hands. But this verse tells us there was a problem. What was it? Satan had fallen from heaven. So what happened?

Let’s read on in the passage to see what happened in verses 13 and 14:

“You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”

There it is…do you see it? Satan got so full of himself, losing sight of the very one who raised him up to begin with. Good grief, he even wanted to ascend above and be like the Most High! Said another way, Satan lost any sense of humility and started believing his own press.

Satan wanted to increase his platform, using his knowledge of God to do it. If Satan had social media at his disposal, he would likely have been using it to post things just as society seemed to want them, using imagery, fonts, colors and words that society would find most appealing. He would most certainly be driven by the motivation to get the most reaction…likes…followers. Yikes.

In essence, scripture tells us that in his heart, Satan had begun to build his own agenda for his life. When he did this, he fell subject to something we’re still vulnerable to today, self-ascension. Slipping into this mindset, one can forget an important truth:

“If God wants us exalted to a place of public prominence, He will make that happen.”

There is really only one thing we need to do. Be ready. We don’t need to present everything as society wants it. We don’t need to make things all neat and pretty. We don’t need to do anything but one thing…seek him fully so that if he chooses for us to ascend, we will be ready. Friends, this is my sole soul desire. And just like anyone else, I have to keep myself in check so that I don’t start believing my own press. For this reason, I have several trusted people that I’ve given permission to also keep me in check. My prayer to God about any platform or ascension remains this: if what I do for you ever becomes about me, remove it from me.

As God has led me through these past years in Kenya, there has developed a sort of notoriety that makes me uneasy. I often feel like a celebrity might feel, relatively speaking of course. I have been swarmed by clamoring and adoring children, publicly celebrated with songs and dancing and even had Sunday church pulpits given over to me to speak. I count all of these moments as precious.

The moments themselves are not the issue. The issue is that I am not the one they or anyone else ultimately needs. Trust me, on my very best day, I will still disappoint. The one we all need is Jesus. Jesus…the one who saved me from the deepest pit of hopelessness and despair. Jesus…the one who died to cancel out my sin debt and gift me with the assurance of eternity in Heaven. Jesus…the one continues to love me, refine me and show me who I was created to be.

To be good stewards of our gifting may at times require that we market ourselves or our work. For example, with an upcoming book launch, I know that to increase the likelihood of the story God has given me to be read, I need to do my part to ensure people know about it. Whatever I do, the results are his. I have no way to know what might be coming my way in the days ahead. Nor do you. If God wants to give someone a more public platform, he can make this happen. What a glorious thing if he does, especially if you can rest assured knowing you are standing there because he wanted you there, not because of anything you did to build your platform of notoriety while using God to get there.

If he does call me into the public eye, if he calls you there, then when the spotlight comes on, may it always be Jesus who is exalted. If we serve him humbly, he will be the one who receives the credit, likes and followers. We should want it no other way.

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